Chris Yang: North Penn’s chess prodigy in the making


Sophomore Chris Yang holds a first place trophy this past March at the Pennsylvania state competiton.

Molly Dooling, Staff Writer

Starting in its earliest form some 15,000 years ago, the game of chess is believed to have originated in Eastern India in the Gupta Empire. It was first known as chaturaṅga, referring to the four divisions of the military – infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariotry. These pieces have now evolved into the more modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook.

With such an old game comes international competition. World Chess Championships are held yearly to determine who the best player out of all the nations. North Penn even has their own nationally ranked chess player here within its halls. After playing the game for ten years, sophomore chess player Chris Yang has participated in 247 chess tournaments and 910 games, and started when he was only six years old. But how did he become so respectable in the chess world?

“At first, I actually became pretty good at connect four, so I asked my dad to teach me a more complex game, chess,” explained Yang. When his father could no longer offer Yang helpful knowledge, Yang turned to more experienced instructors for help.

“I had a couple of coaches from Europe and China who gave me lessons over skype.”

Last year, the chess star was even invited to St. Louis to attend the US Chess School that offers training sessions specifically designed for the top teen players in the United States. Other than that, Yang usually practices around the NPHS area and in North Penn’s own chess club.

When he was younger, the sophomore would participate in a chess tournament every weekend. But now trying to juggle schoolwork and other activities with his passion for the game causes him to have less time to train.

“I will be going to Phoenix, Arizona in the summer to represent Pennsylvania in the Arnold Denker National Tournament of High School Champions,” Yang added. The champion even took Walton Farm Elementary School’s Chess Team to the state championships and won.

As far as the ranking this victor has earned, Yang explains that there is a numerical rating system to rank the players that ranges from 100 to 2500+. “My rating is 2270, which makes me ninth in the nation and first in the state based on age,” he explained. In the state championship, Yang has been in the top 10 for nine years and counting. He has won the Arnold Denker State Championship three times and is the current state champion.

However, what has given yang the drive to continue and the initiative to become one of the best is his winning track record. “I am extremely competitive. Nothing beats winning, pun intended.”

The game of chess will always be of significance in Yang’s life, and he hopes to continue with it for as long as he can.